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All That and a Bag of Mail: Internet Outrage Edition

NEW YORK, NY – JANUARY 23: Commissioner of the National Football League (NFL), Roger Goodell, speaks at a press conference announcing the 16 winners of the first round of the $20M Head Health Challenge, a research grant created by the NFL and General Electric to better study and treat traumatic brain injuries, on January 23, 2014 in New York City. Each winner will receive $300,000, with a possible $500,000 more available for six winners of the second round of the challenge, which will be announced in 2015. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images) Andrew Burton Getty Images North America

It’s Friday the mailbag is here and social media is probably ANGRY and OUTRAGED AND DEMANDING THAT SOMEONE BE FIRED RIGHT NOW. Welcome to Outkick, one of your few outrage free zones with a substantial readership left in the sports media. We don’t hate anyone. We don’t even want anyone fired — somewhere Derek Mason just exhaled — we just want to have fun and help you to pretend to work on a Friday when all you want is for Saturday kickoff to be here. 

We feel your pain. 

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is Will Muschamp, who called into his own radio show as Bill from Gainesville last night. That’s impressive. I’d link it for y’all, but I’m on Southwest wifi and linking something is a disaster. Just go check my Twitter feed if you want to hear it. (Confession time: I once called into Chad Withrow’s show and complained because he gave away the ending to Forrest Gump. Now that I’m not doing daily radio, I need to start calling into random radio stations under a different name.)  

On to the mailbag. 

A bunch of you on Twitter, email, and Facebook. 

“Clay, break down the Roger Goodell mess. 

Here’s the deal, I don’t understand the Internet obsession with Roger Goodell’s role in the Ray Rice mess. Let’s just look at this logically. Goodell suspended Ray Rice for two games. A punishment that, in conjunction with the NFL’s draconian drug policy, was absurdly light. After an uproar Goodell apologized, said he got it wrong, and implemented a new domestic violence policy. The story seemed to be over.

Then on Monday TMZ released video of Ray Rice knocking out his fiancee. And the world came undone. This was surprising to me because, you know, the investigative reports in this case had already demonstrated Rice knocked out his fiancee. Plus, as if that wasn’t enough, we already had video of Rice dragging his knocked out girlfriend off the elevator. What did people think had actually happened on the elevator?

I don’t know why the second video changed anything. But it did. Immediately the Baltimore Ravens voided Rice’s contract. The NFL followed suit with an indefinite suspension. Now, you can believe Rice made an abhorrent decision, he did, and still question how this new suspension is possible. Goodell already admitted he blew it on the first Rice suspension and announced new penalties going forward. How can he suspend Rice anew for something he already knew happened? Assuming Rice didn’t lie in their meeting, that seems legally untenable. (And even if Rice did lie, doesn’t that open up a new mess for the NFL. Knocking out a woman gets you two games, but lying to the commissioner about knocking out a woman gets you 14 games. Oops). 

On top of this, the media and social media obsession has been this — did Roger Goodell see the video?! Again, I don’t understand why this matters. The only people we 100% know saw the video are the prosecutors — you know, the people in charge of actually disciplining people who break the law. The prosecutors have escaped virtually all blame for going incredibly light on Rice despite the fact that they had a video to play for jurors. Instead everyone is asking whether Goodell saw the video. My question to you, once more, is why does that matter? It doesn’t. We knew what happened on the elevator already. 

Furthermore, if you logically look at Goodell’s actions, it seems pretty clear he never saw the video. First, why would he lie about seeing it? It’s not that I don’t believe powerful people lie, it’s that I believe they usually lie when they lose their jobs if they don’t lie. If Goodell just admitted to seeing the video, the furor would subside. He already said he got the suspension wrong. The elevator video didn’t change any of the facts at issue. In essence, what does Goodell gain by lying? The only people who think it matters whether Goodell saw the video are idiots. It shouldn’t matter at all. I hate to scream, but THE VIDEO JUST SHOWED US WHAT WE ALREADY KNEW HAPPENED.

Just because the vast majority of the American sporting public is too dumb to read something and picture what happened in their own heads, doesn’t mean that this media obsession with Goodell viewing the video makes sense. The media should be smarter than letting idiot mobs drive this coverage. Unfortunately, the media is not smarter. In fact, everything about the way this story has been covered is incredibly stupid.

Anyway, and I can’t believe I have to say this, but I think it’s laughable that Roger Goodell could lose his job because Ray Rice punched a woman in an elevator. Of course, the ultimate irony here is that seven years ago I warned of this exact situation– in implementing the personal conduct policy Roger Goodell inextricably connected himself to the job of discipline. Being in charge of discipline is incredibly difficult — as anyone involved in the criminal justice system can tell you. Once you screw up a punishment, people blame you for screwing up, not the person who committed the crime. If Goodell just says it’s the job of the criminal justice system to mete out justice not the NFL, then he can pull a David Stern and let Kobe Bryant play basketball while he’s on trial for rape. People look elsewhere to cast blame. It’s insane to me that Goodell has gotten a billion times the criticism for his response to the Ray Rice case as Stern got for letting Kobe take a private jet from his rape trial to a Lakers game.

Think about that for a minute.

Okay, now that we’ve dispensed with a serious topic, let’s have some fun.  

Joshua M. writes:

“Someone hands you an audio recording of everything that was ever said about you in private at girls’ slumber parties throughout your middle and high school years. Would you listen to it? What percentage of guys would NOT be absolutely devastated with the results?

I would 100% listen to it. Primarily because groups of girls at that age — any age really — are just so crushingly mean. While also being hysterically funny. They pull no punches. As my wife has pointed out before, I don’t have the worry what people say or think about me gene. It’s the most important gift someone could have in today’s social media era. If it’s funny, I’d be entertained by it. And based on my middle and high school love life — defining it as “spartan” is probably too kind — I’m quite sure it would be hysterical to hear. 

Plus, now I’m 35. I don’t think it would have bothered me much at 14-16 years old either, but it would be even funnier now. I’d also love to see a transcript because I think it would be even better to read it that way.  

I think like 98% of guys would be devastated though because most of what would be said wouldn’t be that positive. The one guy who wouldn’t be crushed would have been the one guy that every girl wanted to hook up with in high school. You probably remember that guy, he now is a twice-divorced PE teacher coaching middle school girl’s basketball.  

Anonymous writes:

“Hello Clay,

Big fan here… always look forward to my post-lunch reading of the mailbag on Friday afternoons. Anyway… one of the sentences in your reply to the old man balls in the locker room question struck a cord with me. Specifically you said “there should never be a time when you have a shirt on with no pants.”

Quick story: I was in Jamaica with a man friend between Christmas and NYE last year. Our all-inclusive resort boasted a “naked island.” You could basically ride a boat over to a small island and everyone on it is totally naked. Of course we got pretty heavy into the booze, got brave and ventured over to investigate. My date had no problem going sans pants…. however he had obtained a wicked sunburn earlier in the trip and opted to keep him swimshirt on. Is this an appropriate time to have on a shirt and no pants??? If you are sunburned on a naked island in the Caribbean???

Side note #1: Of course the island was full of old saggy bodies, but this was expected.
Side note #2: They actually ended up making him take his swimshirt off because he wasn’t totally naked (even though his penis was clearly visible). Which was even more hilarious.

Would love your thoughts…”

This is why I love the mailbag. I can only imagine how awesome that conversation was when the Jamaican nude resort supervisor had to ask him to remove his shirt. (Are the supervisors nude? If not, is this the most desirable job in all of Jamaica?) I think this would be a decent exception, but I would have still taken my shirt off because I would have felt so weird to be walking around with no pants and my shirt on.

I’ve never been to a naked island in the tropics before, but that’s primarily because I’d prefer to believe that it’s filled with drunk Kappa Kappa Gammas engaging in orgies with older married men whose wives just say, “Sure, go ahead, it’s just sex with nympho sorority girls. I’m not going to judge you for the rest of our lives together. Have fun.” I mean, sure, this seems unlikely, but until I actually go to a nude beach, I can pretend it’s quite common.  

Eli E. writes:

“The Boston Bombing and the riots in Ferguson were crazy events, and they were amplified even more by individuals tweeting as the events were unfolding. Since 9/11 is this week and that event was a minimum 10 times more intense and a bigger magnitude, my question to you is “what would twitter look like on 9/11?”

I’ve wondered about this before. Last year, for instance, I was flying to LAX when the shooting happened at the airport there. I saw about it on Twitter and then clicked on the live satellite feed of what was happening. I knew that we weren’t going to be going to LAX probably as quickly as the captain did, maybe before. No one told us on the plane what had happened, just that we were being redirected due to the airport shutting down.

But we all knew immediately because everyone was watching on television and active on the Internet. The word spread from one passenger to another really quickly. Clearly, the passengers on the fourth plane knew that they’d been hijacked and that the intent was to use the plane as a weapon. But that took a long time to realize. Once you knew you were hijacked and the terrorists intended to kill you, you’d inevitably try to take back over the plane. And I think today you’d know you’d know the hijackers intent pretty quickly. Probably not quickly enough to stop the second plane from hitting the towers, but the people on the flight that hit the Pentagon would have known for sure.

Now, you could also point out that the terrorists would turn off the WIFI and that, for instance, we still don’t know what happened to the Malaysian Jet, but these were all planes flying in US airspace. I’m on a plane right now writing the mailbag. If someone suddenly popped up with a gun, I’d go straight to Twitter and Tweet it. So even if the terrorists turned off the WIFI, the info would get out before we all got silenced.  

Passengers on the fourth jet found out about the terror attacks from their cell phones, which, back in 2001, were still relatively rudimentary. Someone would have been texting and Tweeting from those planes if 9/11 happened today. Now, having said all of this, there would also have been a great deal of misinformation shared. Twitter has everything first, but it doesn’t necessarily have everything first and have it right. It takes time for the facts to solidify.

Remember that the cell phone networks ended up overloading all along the east coast as well. Surely that would happen very quickly once more, especially given the amazing amount of bandwidth we consume. My guess is that Twitter would have buckled under the surge of 9/11 and gone offline.  

Jeffrey C. writes:

“Vandy is terrible.

But, doesn’t this show the true value of the head coach in college football. Vandy still has talented players recruited by Franklin prior to his departure. The same could be said in reverse about Auburn last year. Gus Malzahn made an outstanding showing with a team that was 80% recruited by Chizik – a team that was terrible the previous season. With these metrics and the windfall from SEC Network, how tempted will a team like Vandy be to sink their additional projected 20 million into a coach they can believe in? When will a coach take a contract that pays 1 million dollars per win each season, and is that even a ridiculous amount or perhaps too low.”

I have been saying this for years — the program matters much less than the coach. The coach is everything in college football. He matters more here than any coach does in any other major sport.

James Franklin is a great analogy — although let’s also give credit to the staff he’s put together. There is a 0% chance that Vandy loses to Temple by thirty points with Franklin. (I don’t think they lose at all). Increasingly, I think college football is a lot like the NFL when it comes to quarterbacks. Namely, in any given year there aren’t enough good quarterbacks to make the league competitive top to bottom.

How many good NFL quarterbacks are there? Like 13 or 14 at most, right? How many college football coaches are so good that you have zero doubt they’d win big no matter which program they were coaching? Probably about the same number. Perhaps even fewer. Let’s use the most average school in America, we’ll pick Illinois as our test case.

Could Nick Saban, the best coach in college football, win a national title at Illinois? I think so. Could Gus Malzahn, Urban Meyer, Art Briles, Bobby Petrino, James Franklin or Bob Stoops? Maybe. How many other coaches would you bet on winning big at Illinois though? Not many. Sure, other coaches can win, but they’re above average coaches who happen to be at great jobs.  

Much like with NFL quarterbacks, the demand for top coaches far exceeds the supply. The craziest thing is that schools know this. Nick Saban deserves a substantial premium over every other coach in America. Instead, and this is why coaching is a crazy business, other schools compete with Saban by paying their coaches — who don’t deserve the salary — Saban-level compensation. This allows athletic directors to claim they’re doing everything they can to win. There’s probably $100 million or more that other coaches are getting paid because Saban’s so good at his job.  

Luke writes:

“In the spirit of the UT/OU game this weekend I have a question. If Butch Jones and Bob Stoops were in the movie “Gladiator” and they had to fight it out in the last scene of the movie, who would win between the two?”

You don’t cite Gladiator as your example here, you gotta go with a “Game of Thrones” trial by combat. 

Butch is not very big, but he’s younger than Stoops. Inevitably, I see this bout coming down to a choke hold because I don’t believe either man is strong enough to kill another man with punches. So who would be better at placing a choke hold on his opponent? Stoops has a longer neck, which, I think would work to his disadvantage. Jones has kind of a squat neck, which would make him harder to choke out.

So I’m going Butch via chokeout.  

Kenny writes:

“‹Would it better for people who tweet dumb stuff to just delete it and move on? These boiler plate, fake apologies are getting old, and actually make it worse. You said what you said, you got backlash, you deleted, let’s move on.

Also, the stark contrast in vocabulary and grammar between the original tweet and the apology tweet is so evident, I can’t believe they would ‹think we are so stupid as to believe it’s the same person (I’m looking at you Paul George). What’s the point of the fake apology, and the “I got hacked” responses?”

I’d like to see a camera in the PR offices when Tweets like these go out. You know the Pacers, the NBA too, were like, “Please don’t get us involved in this domestic violence story. People are too dumb to realize that we let Kobe Bryant play while he was charged with rape, so as long as we stay quiet they’ll just blame the NFL and totally ignore every other league’s player arrest issues.”

Then Paul George sends out that Tweet and I’m picturing the scene being like in “Empire Strikes Back” when the empire starts shelling the rebel alliance base on the ice planet Hoth. (My boys are watching Star Wars movies on a constant loop now so all the immediate analogies that come to my mind are from Star Wars now. Jabba the Hutt is clearly the Ray Rice of Star Wars.) There’s stuff falling from the ceiling and people are yelling at each other, frantically typing away on computers, some intern in a furry coat yells out, — “There are four million responses to Paul George’s Tweet!”

Larry Bird, in the role of the grizzled rebel Admiral, is walking around with ear muffs on, like, “I don’t know what the f— Twitter is, but I am going to break Paul George’s other leg in three minutes.”

The whole building is shaking. Somewhere Adam Silver emerges from his crypt — seriously, this guy sleeps in a coffin in a cemetery, right — extends a long, bony finger and people fall down choking around him. And then PR takes control of Paul George’s Twitter account, writes something that he would never say to apologize, and, miraculously, the story dies. That’s how stupid we all are. Paul George says what he believes. It’s entirely inappropriate. Then the PR staff logs on to his Twitter and apologizes for his opinion and the story is over. 

The opposite of this, of course, is when people claim their accounts were hacked, but the people who Tweet from the account sound the exact same as they did beforehand. I love when this happens. Kenny Britt is the king of claiming his account was hacked. Why would someone hack Kenny Britt’s account and then write the exact same thing that Kenny Britt would say?

Anyway, yes, this is stupid. But social media is slowly making all of us stupid.  

Ashley C. writes:

“Is USC Athletic Director Pat Haden the fastest member of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee? In a 100-meter dash, who would end up medaling? Tyrone Willingham is probably a slight favorite, but I wonder if Archie Manning still has a little speed up his sleeve. Could Tom Osborne even finish the race?

Here’s the committee.

A bunch of these guys are former athletes so I feel like a ton of them still jog for exercise. But you do have to factor in age. Tom Osborne is 77 years old. Ty Willingham is just sixty. But Jeff Long is only 54. So I’m thinking Long has to be the gold medal favorite. Willingham’s the silver. I’d probably go Archie Manning with the bronze because I just assume that Peyton Manning has already watched tape on the other committee members running and knows exactly how to maximize Archie’s speed. 

Don’t sleep on Condi Rice though, she’s in incredible shape. (By the way, one of the great things about Twitter is many people want to replace Roger Goodell with Condi Rice. Goodell mishandled a domestic violence penalty. That’s not minor, but Condi Rice helped take us to WAR BASED ON FAULTY INTELLIGENCE. Is Dick Cheney totally unavailable? What about John Edwards?)

I think it’s fair to say that Barry Alvarez would come in last.  

Lucas writes:

“Clay:

I enjoyed your pieces on the twitter mob and the genesis of outrage on the internet today.  Said simply, it appears as though Twitter and other social media platforms have created a world that operates in a manner similar to the 85% Alabama fan base:  a large contingent of people with unrealistic expectations making snap decisions grounded in incompetence.  My question is how do you change it?  Can it be stopped?  To borrow a quote from Nick Saban, “Is this what we want football to be?”   Football metaphorically representing social media, news, and the world in general.   I despise predicting rain when one could be building an ark.  What actions would you take? 

I can’t quit my twitter feed.  As you have said many times, Twitter is the greatest medium for information the world has ever known.  It is my morning newspaper.  It’s how I stay informed.  I can’t mute or unfollow everyone when they all become Alabama fans at once. Does it take organizations like the NFL to basically give the double bird to world and say, “we are a private organization, not congress or an elected official.  You don’t get a vote on how we run our organization.  Your vote begins and ends with your dollar as consumers.  Your comments have been dually noted, now get lost”?”

What we need to happen is for people getting fired to stop being the default response anytime anyone does anything the least bit stupid. We all do stupid shit all day long. Even the most brilliant among us makes mistakes that look dumb in retrospect. I think the problem is that the rules of politics have trickled down to every other element of our society. Let me explain.  

What’s the first thing that a Democrat or Republican demands when a member of the opposite party does something controversial or dumb? FIRE THEM. Then it turns into a media debate, “Should (insert political figure here) be fired for (insert controversy here)?” It’s all about winning the day’s news cycle. People like the drama of should he stay or should he go debates, but it doesn’t actually help our country at all. Somehow Democrats and Republicans have convinced themselves that this style makes sense and it’s been going on in politics for a generation. It really expanded, however, with the right wing’s Bill Cinton obsession. But now social media magnifies it and everyone in the public arena has taken their lead from politics. (This is ironic, of course, because everyone hates politicians precisely because of the way they play the game. So what have we done? Applied the political model to everyone else in the public arena, which means everyone ends up being hated.) The politics of personal destruction has expanded to the point where now it’s the media of public destruction. 

If you don’t like someone or what someone said, you demand that they be fired. Seriously, it’s crazy. Every day I log on to Twitter and people are demanding I be fired for something. We’ve even made it a joke on Outkick because people write to the site so often demanding that Outkick fire Clay Travis.

I’m wondering now if it’s going to move all the way down the food chain to non-public jobs. Like, is the cafeteria worker at your kid’s school going to get fired for not ordering enough corn dogs in October? Will people take to Facebook or Twitter and demand it? What about Joe in accounting, why can’t he get the vending machine fixed? FIRE JOE! That would be ridiculous, right? Yet it happens every day.  

I’m not talking about gross incompetence, by the way. People can and should be fired for consistent failure at their job, but this used to be confined to politics, now it’s everyone in the public eye. If you’re in media, people are always wanting you to be fired. One of the reasons I’m glad I own Outkick is because no one can ever stop me from writing on Outkick. (So long as I don’t go to prison for a felony, anyway.)

My suggestion for how to change things would be this — media companies should chill out and ignore the social media noise and people on social media should chill out too. I mean, if you don’t like someone, don’t consume their content. Don’t watch, don’t listen, or don’t read. (Except for the people who hate me. Please keep complaining about me to all of your friends and co-workers. Tell everyone not to watch, listen or read. You’re the best advertisers possible.) But that’s probably not going to happen. 

So my other suggestion would be this, join me in ridiculing people who are outraged all the time. There are plenty of things to be outraged about, but almost none of them are in America today. America has never been safer, fairer, or richer in our history. Things are pretty good here. Now, if you want to be outraged by what goes on outside our borders, have at it. But that doesn’t happen. Most people who are outraged by things in America are too dumb to know how good we have it compared to the rest of the world.

So whenever someone is offended or outraged, just respond, “I’m offended that you’re offended.”

People have no idea how to respond to this. Because they’ve been trained that being offended only goes one way. What if you’re offended that they’re offended? It boggles their mind.    

Andrew T. writes:

“Like you, I had two sons, but then my third child was a daughter, born seven years later. My sons are now in their early 20s and I have a teenage daughter. I struggled at first giving my daughter social advice until one day, I jokingly said “Just remember – all boys are idiots.” But the more I thought about it, I realized this may be a great way to approach teenage (and maybe adult) life for girls. It sets expectations very low. You are ready for, and unsurprised by, all types of poor male behavior. It also helps you take things way less personally. Your thoughts.”

I don’t have a daughter, but if I did, I’d tell her this once she turned 12, “For the next 25 years of your life everything a boy or man does is about having sex with you. Everything.” She won’t believe you — because the survival of the species probably depends on women not realizing how much of everything men do is based on the pursuit of sex — but she’ll at least think about it. I would reiterate this warning to her every month until she was married.

This is why I wish I had a daughter, I’m convinced I could make her dominant. Most men are dumb and she’d be smart and hot — fortunately all of our kids look like my wife. I would teach her every trick boys have. She’d be like Neo in the Matrix. I think I could have her elected to the Senate by 35, President by forty. If she wasn’t interested in politics, I’d send her to Silicon Valley. She’d be a billionaire by forty.

Instead I’ve got boys. And, I hate to brag, but if he keeps up his current trajectory my three year old is going to be the best dick joke teller in American history. He’s a dick joke prodigy, absolutely hysterical, right now. There are thousands of little kids all over America right now who are going to spend generations trying to get him fired too.

But most of y’all will love him.

Look out, Lincoln Travis is coming y’all.     

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.